Lift Yourself Up With a Down Dog

Lift Yourself Up With A Down Dog

Self-Care isn't selfish

Emi
Emi
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My alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m. Groggily, I roll over and turn it off before it wakes up my roommates. I force myself out of bed, into tennis shoes, and out the door. I get to the gym around 7:50 and hop on the treadmill before my body even realizes what's happening. After ten minutes of high-intensity cardio, my mind and body are fully awake. I move to the weights section and complete a leg workout in 30 minutes. I end by stretching and giving myself gratitude and appreciation before starting the day. When I get back to my room, I make a bowl of oatmeal with bananas, honey, cinnamon, and most importantly, peanut butter. I eat, shower, and head out the door.

This is how I start every day. By going to the gym and moving my body, I awaken my mind. I give myself time to ease into my day. I allow myself to sweat and work hard and maybe even shake a little. I challenge myself and feel rewarded both mentally and physically. I stretch out my limbs and give myself a second to simply breathe.

Working out is immensely important. Obviously, it is beneficial for your physical health and well-being. But a deeper benefit comes with mental health. Working out keeps me sane throughout the craziness of college. It is the one time of day I am completely selfish and focused on myself. I can put in headphones, blast music, and spend an hour doing whatever I decide. I typically try to go to the gym alone, as this is the only time I really can be.

Exercising is the largest stress-reliever. Moving my body clears my head and gives me time to re-focus my thoughts. When I eventually do turn back to school work, I feel motivated and refreshed. Before every big exam or presentation, I always make it to the gym first to relieve anxiety and gather energy. Nothing better prepares my mind for the day than being able to think of nothing but my legs running and my arms pumping up and down.

Working out, especially in the early morning, isn't for everyone. And that's okay. Exercising provides structure and routine for me. It gets me out of bed in the morning and sets me up for personal success for the rest of the day. However, I believe that everyone can find something similar to working out that provides them relief from stress and the opportunity to be self-indulgent. Perhaps that is knitting, or coloring, or reading. Maybe it's waking up to watch the sunrise or carving out time to watch it set. No matter what it is, everyone needs an hour a day for themselves. An hour to be selfishly and completely focused on oneself. This hour will provide benefits beyond merely making a scarf or snagging beautiful pictures of the sky or getting toned arms.

For me, the gym is a relief. It is something I look forward to every single day. Without this hour to myself, I might go crazy. So get to the gym, or pick up knitting needles, or buy a coloring book. Because self-care is not selfish. It is necessary.

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10 Thoughts You Have During Yoga Class

You are stretching, lifting, and twisting like a pretzel.
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I am not new to yoga, but I have recently started taking yoga classes. I must say the experience is incredibly strange. Yoga class is this strangely intimate place. Where you are told to twist your body to all these uncomfortable positions while watching yourself in a God awful large mirror that covers the entire room.

1. The moment you walk into class and look for a spot.

2. The "resident" Yogi is "warming up"

3. The instructor tells you to go to the front of the mat and breathe.

4. You start the first set of upward and downward dog.

5. The instructor tells you to put your head down and breathe.

6. You are the only one falling out of your poses.

7. The moment you complete your first pose of the class.

8. "Class, we are almost done" the instructor says.

9. You get to lay on your back and stretch your arm.

10. You walk out of class and feel like you're on top of the world.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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6 Different Styles Of Yoga And When To Practice Each One

No matter if you're a beginner or someone who's been doing the activity for years, it's great to become familiar with numerous kinds of yoga and the best times to do them.

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Whether you're new to yoga or you've been to your share of group classes, this post will teach you about some of the different schools of yoga and when you're likely to benefit from them. Here are the basics around the main schools of yoga:

1. Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is the kind likely most familiar to people in the West. It's a broad term for yoga involving physical poses and is a good option for beginners because the pace of the movements is slower than some of the other choices on this list. You hold each pose for a few breaths before progressing.

Consider trying a Hatha yoga class if your goal is to improve flexibility or you often feel overly stiff from a desk job.

According to the results of a small study, the participants went through a Hatha yoga program twice a week for five months and saw improvements in flexibility afterward.

2. Ashtanga Yoga

Something that sets Ashtanga yoga apart from other types is that it matches certain movements to your breath and you do them in the same order each time. There are six groups of movements (categorized as primary, intermediate and four advanced levels) and you don't move onto the next one until mastering the first.

If you're looking for a more intense type of yoga that could help you gain strength and get an excellent physical workout, try Ashtanga. People who do it say it helps them build muscle and could even be a contributor to weight loss. Since Ashtanga yoga is one of the more intense forms, it's a kind that is practiced in hot yoga studios pretty often.

Hot yoga is not a new practice but it's recently gained incredible popularity and the classes are rapidly becoming more widespread. So, if you live in a place that you imagine will have limited yoga class options, there's a good chance that you'd still be able to find a place that offers Ashtanga yoga in a temperature-controlled studio.

3. Iyengar Yoga

Do you struggle with chronic back pain and notice that the problem negatively impacts the things you like to do? If so, Iyengar Yoga could help. It's a specific kind of Hatha Yoga that focuses on maintaining the body's alignment while controlling its breath.

Plus, there's no need to worry about initially having trouble holding the poses properly. People who take part in Iyengar Yoga often depend on props such as belts or blocks to help them perform the poses, making the risk of strain goes down. Give this type of yoga a try if you have limited mobility or are recovering from an injury, too. It's highly adaptive and teachers can modify the movements to meet your needs.

4. Bikram Yoga

Bikram yoga is the original kind of hot yoga. Bikram Choudhury founded it several decades ago and developed a system of going through 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises per 90-minute session. All classes occur in a room kept at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of around 40%.

This is the best yoga method to try if you're feeling confident in your abilities and aren't a complete beginner. It could also be a good pick for you want to focus on heart health. Research showed that people in an experiment had improved blood vessel health after doing Bikram yoga. But, one surprising conclusion of the study was that the temperature of the room did not affect those benefits.

So, if you like the Bikram yoga poses but get a bit overwhelmed by the sweltering environment, consider doing the poses at home in a setting with less intense temperatures.

5. Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini is a holistic, comprehensive type of yoga that combines movements and meditation. It uses kriyas, which are groups of postures, breaths, and sounds meant for specific outcomes. Each kriya has instructions about how long to hold each pose and even how to focus your gaze. So, if consistency comforts you, Kundalini yoga could meet your needs.

Research also shows a link between Kundalini yoga and improvements in memory. A small study of older adults revealed that when combined with separate meditation, weekly Kundalini yoga was as effective as memory enhancement training (such as crossword puzzles) for boosting performance on verbal memory tasks.

Having a better memory brings advantages at any age and there's no harm in reaping them when you're younger.

6. Kripalu Yoga

When life feels overwhelming and you need relief, Kripalu yoga could help you discover inner peace. It teaches you to develop an inner focus while paying attention to your body's limits. But, instead of getting frustrated by poses that are too hard for your current capabilities, you'll learn to listen to your body and not push it too hard.

As such, Kripalu yoga could help you develop a more positive body image. It also emphasizes that you should love everything about yourself. That's hard sometimes, especially if you're extremely self-motivated and perhaps too hard on yourself.

By becoming a Kripalu yoga devotee, you could realize that it's possible to tap into an internal stillness whenever you feel life's pressures.

This list shows that even if you make a general statement such as "I do yoga," a person cannot automatically tell precisely what's meant by that unless you go into more specifics about the types you prefer. When you want to venture into the world of yoga for the first time or spice up your routine with a new practice and movement, this can help to navigate you on where to go.

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